Houston Ship Channel Launches $1 Billion Expansion Project

The Port of Houston is finally moving dirt in a year-long, $1 billion project to deepen the Houston Ship Channel, the organization announced Wednesday.

By the end of 2025, a giant dredger named Carolina will be digging the bottom of the canal, which stretches 52 miles from near downtown Houston to the Gulf of Mexico. The work is being carried out by the agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, who have been working on the expansion plans since 2010, according to the Houston Chronicle’s Erica Grieder.

“This project will allow Port Houston to continue to grow and respond effectively to whatever the future demand supply chain has to offer,” Executive Director Roger Guenther said during a news conference announcing the work on Wednesday.

The first segment is a major haul of almost half of the channel in Galveston Bay between the island and La Porte, where Dredge Carolina will deepen and widen the channel to 700 feet.

This map shows where the Houston Ship Channel dredging project will take place over the next two and a half years. Segments in light blue are part of the canal but not part of the dredging project.

Expansion of the Houston Ship Channel

The rest of the work is divided into five more segments. Crews will widen the smaller Bayport and Barbours Cut shipping channels east of Galveston Bay before concentrating on the narrower, more defined portion of the inland waterway. A section between Boggy Bayou and Hunting Bayou near Beltway 8 will be widened to 530 feet and deepened to 46.5 feet.

Finally, workers will deepen a narrower portion of the channel between Sims Bayou and Turning Basin, the easternmost point of the Ship Channel. The work will deepen the waterway two to three feet to accommodate larger vessels.

Grieder reported that there are several reasons the Port Authority is expanding the Houston Ship Channel. Ships are being built increasingly larger, and ports and passages around the world are being outfitted for these ships. Traffic on the canal has reportedly tripled over the past two decades as storage space for storing and mixing cargo has increased in and around Houston ports.

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